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A welcome addition to the Reynolds universe
on 3 November 2007
Galactic North is a selection of short stories set in Reynolds' "Revelation Space" universe and as such adds welcome detail to the previous novels. The stories range from the (in Reynolds terms) near future with the early days of the Conjoiners, one of the competing streams of humanity which feature in the later novels, through stories which are contemparies of the novels, to the far distant (seriously far distant) future.
One of the particularly pleasing things about this collection is that the stories are not completely independent of each other. There are common themes, threads and characters between several of them.
The stand out stories are "Great Wall of Mars" about the early days of the Conjoiners, "Weather" which adds interesting technical detail, and "Grafenwalder's Bestiary" which seems to be set at the same time as Revelation Space. The weakest story in the collection is the titular Galactic North which is massively ambitious but over reaches itself.
My complaint about the collection is simply that I don't think the short story is the right medium for Reynolds. The joys of his novels are their breadth and wealth of detail. The short story simply doesn't give him a broad enough canvas.
So recommended, but if you haven't read any Reynolds before, start with the novels.